Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Liberal Is Not a Four Letter Word

I have heard the word liberal so often used in such scornful terms it gives the speaker a tone of being somewhat superior. Those who adopt this tone somehow seem to imply that perhaps I am less than intelligent if I chose liberalism over conservatism, especially compassionate conservatism.

The idea behind the American Liberalism Project was to educate, to help some make informed decisions about their political feelings. If what liberalism has to offer is not your cup of tea, well then, so be it. I do feel however, that you cannot make liberalism and conservatism a black and white issue. There are certainly conservative liberals and certainly liberal conservatives. Unfortunately, the current political atmosphere has polarized so many that I am sure a great number of young people feel disenfranchised with politics. Especially since we have heard, for the last 5 1/2 years, that you are either "with us or against us", and it has been used not only as a battle cry in the War on Terror, but as a weapon by conservatives to smear their opponents.

Liberals are just as God loving (and some are not), law abiding, country loving, troop supporting, tax paying, compassionate individuals as any other American. To imply that we are less than upright members of our communities, or our country, because we do not happen to support those things which we see as morally reprehensible, is just simply wrong. I do not mean to imply that those who are not liberal are anything other than what we liberals are, that was not my intention, however, we have been smeared way too loudly for way too long by those who call themselves conservatives. It is ironic that those who sit themselves to the right of our President, who has labeled himself the great compassionate conservative, are just about anything but compassionate. Those who would wrap themselves in the shroud of Pat Robertson's brand of religion certainly do not practice what Jesus preached.

What exactly is liberalism? Most would define it as progressive, tolerant, generous, open to change and open minded. In contrast conservatives seek to maintain the status quo. I ran across this list which gives one a better way of comparing the liberals and conservatives and their beliefs.

Liberals Conservatives

Collectivism Individualism
Change Tradition
Science Religion
Inclusiveness Exclusiveness
Democracy Constitutionalism
Equality Merit
Public Sector Private Sector
Pacifism Armed deterrence

These are not, however, absolutes for either group. Would we be struggling in Iraq now had we deferred to diplomacy (pacifism) rather than running off on a fool's errand based on lies? Absolutes would eliminate religious scientists, of which there are many, and also eliminate those who work in the private sector but to the benefit of the public sector. Liberals would be those who align themselves with and represent the poor, workers, (the working poor), women, minorities, academics, environmentalists, artists and those who would promote gun control. Again, this is not to say that there are not liberals who are gun owning members of the NRA, nor wealthy business owners, or those who do not favor the police or the military.

The Constitution is our Democracy's sacred document, but we have a President who feels it is just a "G**damned piece of paper." Conservatives have railed against the ACLU, but since 1920 it is that group which has defended the Bill of Rights for all Americans. Conservatives proposed anti-tax, pro-property amendments would favor those who already have the most wealth and power. Blatantly obvious that the constitution is used as a political ploy, a vehicle to galvanize those who have such a narrow view of everything to begin with, it does not take much to turn them against others.

When the Constitution was finally ratified in 1788 it was a document that had been written by rich white, slave owning (some of them) men. Blacks could not vote (they had no rights), women could not vote (until 1920-they too had few rights) tax debtors got the right to vote in 1964 and young people. those who were off fighting our war in Vietnam, were not allowed to vote until 1971. It would appear today, that if we wish to preserve what has been given to us, to We The People, it is the liberal faction in this country which will do it.

Susan B. Goodwin